Just Not Ready…

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I’m not ready for Christmas.  There, I said it.

I’m not ready for Christmas because…well, do I need to have a reason?  I’m sure that most of you feel that way too, even if you refuse to admit it.  It comes around every 10 months like clockwork (at least it feels that way).  Is there a support group that I don’t know about out there…?

But the thing is, I’m not ready for winter either.  I’ve pretty much reached the point where I’m ready for fall, but that’s about it.  And that doesn’t help.  Sure, things were supposed to happen this summer that didn’t, and June through August flew by far too uneventfully, but I’ve made my peace with that.  But I don’t remember giving fall permission to pull up to the curb, drop off a few overflowing bags of colorful leaves and drive away without even shutting off the engine for a few minutes to come up to the porch to share a beer or two with me.

And, next thing you know, there’s snow on the ground, Christmas carols are playing absolutely everywhere you go, and commercials are showing bright, shiny luxury cars with holiday bows trying to convince you that spending $50,000+ is more than acceptable for your friends and family.  And…where do you even get a giant red bow?  Do the dealerships have them in the back to tape on the roof for a nifty surcharge?

I got Chinese food for dinner last week from a local place that, while their food is good, has the cheapest fortune cookies.  Maybe they have the right lucky numbers for the lottery, I don’t know.  But I know that their fortunes need help.  This one told me – It’s fun being a kid.  Seriously…?

Sure, as Christmas stalks closer and closer, and we feel its peppermint tinged breath on the back of our necks, who of us wouldn’t gladly go back in time and live through it as a kid again?  Heck, going back even ten years’ worth of Christmases sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it?

You know…  I haven’t actually put my Christmas list together yet.  Think that’s a fair one to put on there?

Oh who am I kidding…?  I’ll be lucky to have a list put together by Christmas 2017.  Ahh…maybe that’s the year I catch up.  Here we go…  2017 has to be my year. 😀

Once a Northern Boy…

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Here in good ‘ol Fayette County the seasons are getting a bit confused.  We finally had our first snow of the season (if you count a dusting that was gone just about as quickly as it arrived) and there’s frost on the ground to start each day.  But then the leaves are still in the process of changing colors throughout the area.  On top of that, if you take into account the dandelions still trying to grow throughout the yard for some sick and twisted reason, you have three of the seasons represented just by stepping outside the door first thing in the morning.   It’s a crazy place to be these days.

I’m not ready for fall to be over.  And that’s not just because I should have mowed the lawn one more time before the temperatures started to drop.  And not just because I have no desire to shovel snow yet.  I’ve always been a northern boy and cold and snow are something to be expected and enjoyed in their own way each year.  I’d never be able to move too far south.  I’d miss having all four of the seasons to enjoy and experience as they all have their finer points.  But winter can wait just a bit…

There’s something too inspiring about fall to let it go too soon.  There’s a change you can see in the trees, a smell in the air, the feel of the cooler temperatures, the tastes you don’t get through the rest of the year, etc.  It feels like the chance to re-start.  And it’s invigorating.

That being said, I’m thinking about winter as I’m writing today.  All because of an email I received earlier this week. To let me know about some opportunities.  There are some upcoming writers conferences that will be going on and I’m actually thinking about traveling to attend one.  And how about this for extremes…?  This winter, there’s a writer’s cruise in Florida and a convention in Minnesota in February.  And the one that jumps out to me…?  Yep, Minnesota.  I never claimed to be normal…

Sure, there are more agents that will be attending that one so it will be better for mingling and making connections.  But there’s more to it than that.  Sure, packing more layers and trying to fit it all into limited luggage can be a pain, but Minneapolis/St. Paul is an artistic area.  There’s something inspiring about it.

Okay, so I used to actually live there and Graham is a Minnesota original (born and raised there before coming to Fayette County) so there are plenty of additional reasons to consider that convention location over ones in warmer climates.  And heck, I can’t even swim so why would I want to meet with agents on a boat off of Miami when even the lakes in Minnesota would be frozen over in February?  That area just fits me better.

So I’m going over the application and starting to study up on the agents who will be there.  Maybe one of them is looking for just the right new writer to mold into the next best seller.  And then, when I take off on my book signing tours, I can see some other parts of the country.  And maybe occasionally escape a cold, northern winter…

Avoiding Reality Probably Works…

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Life is short.

It’s not like I don’t realize that on a regular basis, but sometimes you just need to be reminded of it to get the kick in the backside you need to move on from certain things (like elections) and focus on others.  Like absolutely anything else…

Sure, I voted (though my voting location didn’t give out ‘I Voted’ stickers, what’s with that?).  And, of course pretty much everyone I voted for lost.  I went in to the school where I vote having done all of my research and knowing who I was going to vote for (or against) and only changed my mind about one of them.  And that was just because the candidate was standing at the door and forced me to shake his hand as he told me to vote for him.  Pandering like that just pushes me the other way.  I’m stubborn like that…  Peer pressure, pshaw.

But, with all of the stress and negativity around the election (and we didn’t have recreational marijuana on the ballot in this state.  Every state should have had it on there this time, shouldn’t they?  It would have been absolutely perfect timing) I decided to mentally check out of all of it for a while.  Like, maybe I won’t even watch the news for the next 4 years or so…

And, in that mentality, the other day I was watching complete garbage on tv (don’t judge, I’m completely okay with it so you can’t make me feel guilty).  Would you believe that there was a Russian Bigfoot show on?  God Bless cable, right?  This was a “scientific” take on Bigfoot, so they sucked you into watching the entire hour by promising DNA results of evidence – both physical evidence of hair, and samples from a Russian family that was supposedly decended from a woman who was a Neanderthal.  And how could that not be true when they had anecdotal evidence like a story of her son picking up a table at a wedding reception with nothing but his teeth and dancing around with it in his mouth?  So…everyone across four generations who was agreeable to being filmed had their saliva taken to try to prove that they were mostly Neanderthal, as if it was a happy claim to fame that linked them with the possibility of Bigfoot.  Ahh…you think I wasted my time?  Someone (multiple someones) flew to Russia to film this stuff…

Of course no one turned out to be Neanderthal, and the physical “Bigfoot” specimens turned out to be fur from 1) a horse 2) a horse 3) a brown bear.  Sure, one of the scientists insisted that the results were bogus and must have been tainted.  So he’ll probably appear in a later episode explaining how the “scientific community” is hiding the truth.  Russian Bigfoot Exposed or  something like that.  Check your local stations…

Okay, so it was a complete waste of time, but it was good to escape from the seriousness of things for a little while.  I’d been working on writing my next novel, but I’m at a point in the story that’s a bit dark (or at least focuses on something that’s painful from the past of a character) and I found it hard to concentrate on that kind of mentality when there was a cat trying to sleep on my lap and who kept accidently snoring himself awake and couldn’t figure out what was conspiring against his nap.  So that was a no go.

And, until he gave up on the quest for sleep, I couldn’t even get out the guitar, pick around and try to figure out a song to use to audition for America’s Got Talent.  

Sure, crazy idea, but have I mentioned that life is short?  And I’ve got four years of ignoring reality to look forward to.  So it’s time for imagination to run rampant, dreams to turn into reality, and probably some more bad tv to look forward to watching in the down time.

Who’s with me?

What Just Happened?

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I thought I was in the majority…

Not according to race, or religion or gender or anything unimportant like that. In the one way that matters.  Common sense.

I grew up in a country that used to make sense.  People grew up from children into adults who – while never perfect – at least never went so far against their own common sense as to be dangerous to themselves (and others). Not until November 8, 2016.

The United States used to be a leader.  Yes, that’s the correct wording – it used to be.  No matter your level of patriotism and pride, you can’t deny that the U.S. has fallen behind numerous other countries in education, healthcare, equality, infant mortality rates, etc.  The list where we’re not first (or even top 10 or top 20 anymore) has become staggering.

Now we’re like the big brother who was cool in high school but then, when his “music career” never took off, got hooked on meth, made a lot of incredibly poor decisions, embarrassed his family and now is but a shadow of his former self.  The other countries have grown up, found success and made a name for themselves, while we just took a massive hit of our latest drug of choice, flopped down on the couch, turned the tv to something pointless that may or may not be a comedy – something that we won’t even watch – and settled in for a four year nap.  And the world will grow and develop around us while we’re snoring and drooling into our sleeve, occasionally moving enough to shove a handful of junk food into our craw and think back to the days when we were really something.  When we were cool.

It’s humiliating.

We’re a shell of our former self and we’re not going to get better until we admit we have a problem.  And on November 8th, when everyone came over for the party and we were so wasted that we wandered into the living room telling sexist jokes and soiling the backside of our last clean pair of ripped up jeans as everyone awkwardly watched and felt completely mortified and humiliated for us….?  Yeah, that should be our wake up moment.  Our “I’ve completely shamed myself and need to make changes before it’s too late” moment.  We’ve hit rock bottom.

Now here I am living in Fayette County – a county that voted over 64% for ignorance and hate.  And I’ve never felt so alone.  But I was kind of prepared for that.  After all, I voted behind a guy who had a Trump sticker covering one half of his truck’s rear window and a confederate flag sticker covering the other half (both not-so-subtle racism and complete driving ignorance wrapped up together in one 99-cent purchase).

I know someone who voted for ‘that guy’ because he was scared the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns (regardless of any rational attempt to explain the fallacy of that logic).  And his wife used her individual vote to choose the same guy because her husband was scared that the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns.  And there’s the woman who voted for him because “he’ll get rid of partial birth abortion” even though that was something banned in a previous decade and doesn’t actually exist.  Or the person who made their decision based on Benghazi without knowing either A) what happened in Benghazi or B) what continent Benghazi is located on.  Ahh, democracy in action…

And please don’t get me started on the “Christians” who simply voted straight down the Republican ticket because that’s the party of “Christian” morals and values…  When did “Christians” lose the ability to think (and read, and research and reason…?)  And, most importantly, when did they lose the ability to feel love and compassion for anyone the slightest bit different than themselves…?

So sure…I knew I wasn’t living in an intellectual Mecca around here (pun intended – if you get it, you probably voted on my side).  But I thought I could temporarily escape from my little county of crazy whenever I wanted to, simply by going out into the rest of the United States occasionally once the election was over.  Someplace that wasn’t fueled by rage and fear and complete and total ignorant self-interest.  But apparently not.  It obviously stretches far beyond the borders of what I thought it would.

So who wants to get in the car with me, or hop on that train, or board a plane with me and take off to someplace better?  At least for the next four years or so.  By then, maybe the majority of people will have learned their lesson, grown up and shown that they can once again be entrusted with making intelligent adult decisions.

It’s either that or I’ll have to see if it’s too late to volunteer for a mission to Mars. At least we haven’t had the opportunity to mess that place up. Yet…

Make Someday Today (Or How ‘Bout Them Cubs?)

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It happened.  Last night (or actually very early this morning) it happened.  And it still hasn’t remotely sunk in yet.  But maybe, just maybe, if I type it out, it will seem completely real…

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Okay, maybe just once more…

My beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Ahh…it’s starting to seem real already.

No one one ever said being a Cubs fan was going to be easy.  Actually, those of us who have passionately cheered for them over the years have found it incredibly easy to tell everyone around us just how very hard it is.  We’ve shared our expectations of collapse, of ill-timed strikeouts, of booted ground balls and pitching changes that happened either too soon or not soon enough.   We’ve all shared stories of exactly where we were when that proverbial rug was torn out from under us in each and every one of the years past.  And we swear that none of it ever took us by surprise because we knew it would happen all along.

So when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch into the dirt that bounced directly off of David Ross’ face, and when Ross stood up, only to trip over his own feet and fall over as two runs came in, that wasn’t shock in our voices.  It was a collective of choice words that all translated into “Here we go again”.

And when Aroldis Chapman gave up that game tying home run that screamed low and fierce over the left field wall, all of us screamed out words that meant “Yep, I knew that was going to happen” (even if I need to apologize for being a slight bit more colorful with my word choice than that in the heat of the moment).  We’ve been there before.

But this year…?

Maybe there was some hope that remained.  Maybe there was some belief that it wasn’t actually over yet and that this year could still be different.  That maybe it would just be another story about how hard they made it in the end and how much they put us through one more time before coming through in the big moment.  Like we all knew they would this time.  Sure…  I’d like to believe in that.

Land you know what?  I kept watching.  The game went on with me absorbed, Schwarber to Almora Jr. to a run, then another then giving back one in the bottom half of the inning before…  It ended.  And the Cubs had won.  And I had no idea what to do.  How do you celebrate something you’ve been wanting for years but you never planned for?

So here I sit, basking in the glow of a moment that will stick with me forever, typing and eating left over Halloween candy, and feeling a little like something has changed in the world.  Maybe nothing all that much has actually changed, or maybe all of it is only in my mind, but it does feel like a whole new day.

It’s like there’s just a little more promise hovering in the air.  A little more hope dancing around making it easier to believe in those parts of life that have stayed just a little out of reach for too long.  And my lips are pulled up into the start of a smile through each moment of the day thinking of possibilities   It’s sappy, sure.  And it’s probably me being a bit of a hopeless romantic.  That too.  I’ve been called that before.  But not everything we experience is completely quantifiable.  What fun would that be?

Sometimes it’s just about enjoying what life might have out there for us and believing that someday isn’t as far away as it can feel on certain days.  That’s what I’ve learned as I try to wrap my head around it all today.  Sometimes the Cubs are more than the Cubs.

So how ’bout them Cubs?

The ‘Mart

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SACRAMENTO USA - SEPTEMBER 13: Walmart shopping cart on September 13 2013 in Sacramento California. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores

If I ever lose my mind, I know just where it will be. Rescuers will find me curled up in a fetal position in Walmart, laying between a palate of —– and a bin full of ——–. Okay, the exact product placement may end up be Inc slightly different, but there’s a pretty good chance overall that it will be somewhere in Walmart.

Whenever I’m forced to enter the black hole of disappointment and depression that is that place, I think that I’m completely mentally prepared. I really do. I think up all of the worst case scenarios I can come up with, only to find that it’s much much worse. Or maybe I just go in with the wrong attitude.  Is that a possibility?

As I rush down the main aisle to get through with my visit as quickly as possible, there’s an obese man with a 3-day beard that’s holding half a slice of pizza within its whiskers carrying an extra large selection of pink lingerie, and I avoid eye contact because if would feel wrong on every level.  Then there’s the older woman literally screaming at the top of her lungs (right at the moment when she walked behind me, causing me to physically jump into the air) into her phone at ‘gramma’, the guy with the massively stained baseball cap that stated to the world ‘Don’t ask me shit’, and the woman I assume is attempting to shoplift toilet bowl cleaner by stuffing it down her Scooby Doo t-shirt.  And that’s just in the first 50 yards of this visit.

See…It doesn’t take much to come up with plenty of examples and specific reasons why the place drives me straight-jacket level crazy. Especially when you look back and consider that I even worked for that place twice. Yep, you read that correctly. Twice.  Not in this local store, but they’re all the same, right?

The first time was when I was just a 16-year old kid in high school – just old enough to drive there myself. They offered me a better(?) job than the one I had held at Wendy’s for the past three days (don’t ever ask me about their chili if you don’t actually want to know the truth…) and I jumped at the chance. That summer either wasn’t very memorable, or I managed to completely blot out all of the memories.  But…the second time working there, when I was right out of school and needed something/anything to pay the oncoming bills, I took on the challenge of working at a brand new Walmart.  One that wasn’t even finished yet.  So, without any construction background at all, I was put to work with a few other guys pouring cement floors, building huge storage bins and putting up hundreds and hundreds of shelving units.

And, believe it or not, we all survived. Sure, one blew himself off a 30 foot ladder when attempting to use a nail gun for the first time, and a 60-year old man dropped a 27″ television on my head (no comment about how that “explains” things please) when I rushed over to help him as he was struggling to put it up onto a huge shelving unit.

But what I remember most fondly is when we all tried following the boss’ instructions for building the mounts for all of the shelves to hold into the wall.  And…when we were finished, those brackets that were supposed to look perfectly straight all looked like the letter “C”.  Even though I’m still certain to this day that we did them exactly as we were instructed to.

So…I don’t trust anything in Walmart. I still feel like everything is going to collapse if I touch it, though I also feel like anything I touch might contaminate me anyway so care needs to be taken.  And I’m not sure if I’d rather bump into one of the sticky shelves or into the couple who’s coming down the chip aisle with a hungry, crazed look in their eyes, wearing matching socks, Crocs, camouflage shorts and nearly identical t-shirt pit stains.

I don’t scare easily, but you might end up find me hiding out in the middle of the place where it not as busy (and there’s carpeting), curled up and rocking back and forth.  All if I can’t escape this place within 10 minutes or less.

Fortunately for me, everything you could ever need is within a few feet of the checkout lanes.  See…there’s a box of Crispie Creams and a dvd copy of Anchorman right over there.  Wait…now what did I ever come into this place for anyway…???

Free Bigfoot Books

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Okay, I didn’t mean that I’m giving away free Bigfoot books, so don’t get the wrong idea and start requesting them,  What I’m saying is that I’ve gotten a couple of them in the mail recently with the expectation that I’ll read them and provide glowing reviews of them.  But…before you get too jealous of my new reading opportunities, let me tell you that both of the books look homemade.  Completely homemade.  Like, when the authors finished writing them and glued the pages together, they pulled out a box of crayons to draw the covers all by themselves and struggled to stay within the lines.  I shouldn’t laugh, but…well…everybody needs a good laugh every now and then, don’t they?

I’ve been tempted to wander up into the mountain woods to see how ‘correct’ these books might be about our possibly imaginary furry neighbor, but…

1)  Its been really hot out lately

2)  Then it rained

3)  I haven’t actually read the books (and don’t really plan to)

So I settled for mowing the lawn and gazing longingly up into the hills and just let my imagination wander.  It’ll have to suffice for now.  And, as my mind wanders, I wonder what agents are thinking about the first chapter of my novel.  Yes…that’s my way of saying that I sent my query letter and the first chapter novel to agents to read and…well, my imagination bounces between them loving it and getting it published and hating it and laughing about it over drinks with roving gangs of other agents.  Ahh, vivid imaginations can be troubling sometimes…

Do you remember when you were a kid and sent in your allowance money to order some amazing plastic product that was announced on the back of a cereal box or shown in the back of a comic book?  And you were told to wait 6-8 weeks for it to arrive?  Time dragged on sooooooo slow…

Then, when you become an adult, time never goes that slowly again.  Heck, autumn – the greatest of the seasons – never seems to last longer than 36 hours once you’re an adult. But now that I’m forced to wait a couple of months to hear back from the agents I’ve reached out to, I’m a kid again.  But, instead of checking the mailbox 8 times a day, I’m checking my email every quarter hour.  I guess we never actually grow up.

And, when that first response comes in, I know that I’ll excitedly not open it for a few minutes, just in case it’s bad news.  Because, while I have confidence, what are the odds that the first person I send my manuscript to will be the one who becomes my all-time best friend for making my writing dream come true…  It just might be the second person instead.  Okay, maybe the 43rd.  But he or she is out there somewhere.

Searching for that elusive agent is like like looking for Bigfoot.  You need plenty ofpatience (and a bit of craziness).  And maybe a couple of tranquilizer darts…

Fayette County Sunday

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Not my mountain view, but if I close my eyes...

Not my mountain view, but if I close my eyes…

Is it just me or is the sight of a shadow of a cloud passing over the mountains one of the coolest things to see?

It’s perfect on a relaxing Sunday afternoon when you’re outside just watching the world go by.  Or at least this little part of it here in Fayette County.  The county fair has wrapped up so people aren’t out and about as much as they were through the week and are probably napping off ten- thousand or so calories of fried foods that they took in over the past few days.

Though plenty of people were out shopping today when I needed to be out there.  But that’s always the case when I’m trying to get anything done.  You think you’ve seen a Wal-Mart checkout line go slow?  You haven’t seen nothing ’till I’ve picked a line.  Out-of-date coupons, writing a check to pay for half of the order without a pen, searching for change from the bottom of a ten-gallon purse…?  Whoever is in front of me is guaranteed to do that and more.

People are still wearing their county fair kind of outfits out there too – plenty of camouflage (in hat, shirt, shorts and shoes options), muscle shirts with some version of the American flag, and one guy who’s torn and stained t-shirt read “Out Drinking Moonshine”.  Ahh, Fayette County, I don’t get you at all, but I love you anyway…  After all, where else can you watch an 85-year old man cruise up and down the streets of the neighborhood on his motorized wheelchair with his grandson on his lap acting like they’re in a go-cart and moving faster than half the cars that are going by?  And where else can you see people in short-shorts, knee-length black dress socks and a pair of brightly colored Crocs out for lunch at a downtown restaurant acting like they dressed up for the occasion?  No, I’m not judging, I’m just enjoying all of the local color.  It makes life more interesting.

I’m not sure how Graham (the cat who thinks like a dog) is adjusting to this area of the country so far either.  He’s a cold-weather boy by birth and hasn’t made many friends since leaving “his people” back in Minnesota.  He gets along well with a 20-25 pound groundhog who lives just at the edge of our yard – they seem to have built some mutual respect there somehow – but any other animal he sees he just takes as a threat.  The other day we were outside when one of the neighbors came walking by with her large golden retriever and stopped to talk.  And, seeing Romeo step just one paw into our yard, Graham came running over, punched him in the nose and stood in front of him growling.  This is MY turf.  

I’ve seen feral cats running for the woods like their tail was on fire, with an orange and white blur chasing them until they passed out of the range of our yard and Graham trotting back to the front walk with a smug look of success on his face.  And, just the other day a huge Rottweiler came into the yard barking his head off and Graham just walked up to him with an incredulous look on his face like You really want a piece of me?  

I think that 90-100 pound dog was just a bit out of Graham’s weight class so I had to pick him up and carry him in.  And I think he’s still a bit bitter at me doubting his skills…

what are YOU lookin' at?

what are YOU lookin’ at?

So we each have our own way of adapting to a new area I guess.  I write and he plays neighborhood watch (or neighborhood bully – I’m not sure which one).  I haven’t been here long enough for Fayette County to make it into the writing, but it’s got enough unique characters around to inspire some stories.  And, as if to prove my point on what I thought was going to be a quiet afternoon, remember that grandpa from down the street?  He just got into a race with a couple of kids in a golf cart and I’m putting my money down on the old man if there are any takers out there…

Represent Me, Publish Me, Love Me…

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I’ve never been all that great with setting deadlines for myself.  I’m too stubborn and I know myself too well.  So I don’t want to set myself up for disappointing myself.  Make sense?

But…throughout the rest of this week, I have a job to do.  It’s time to write out the query letter that I’m going to send out to potential agents.  You know, the letter that tells prospective agents ‘please read me, please love me and validate me, please tell me that I’m a good writer and please drop everything else on your plate to get me published’.  Ahh, selling myself and my work through barely disguised begging, and having it done by the end of the day on Saturday.  Now this project should be fun…

I wonder how many rough drafts it will take to attempt to describe my novel in a way that I’m ultimately happy with.  To take an 80,000 word book (that I’ve been re-working for months and months) and make it sound like the next best seller in a 200-300 word description, well…lets just say that I’m not expecting it to be easy.  I’d like it to stand out and seem amazing but, by the end of the week when it’s time to send it out, I might settle just for the final result not to be passed out among the agents’ office peers as a “look at what this schmuck sent to me” example.  After all, I want to entertain people, but not exactly in that way…

I guess I could ask those people who have read the novel for their opinions, but, well…since I moved here to Fayette County, I’m kind of missing that aspect of the writing process.  I’m missing those people who read through a few chapters at a time, give me their opinion and ask “But then what happens?”  So I’m settling for writing my own description about my own book which, if it sounds like that really shouldn’t be that difficult, it at least explains why I was fired from the only sales job that I ever had.  Okay, sure, it was selling magazine subscriptions over the phone while I was back in school, but who really wants to wake people up on a Saturday morning to try to sell them a 2-year subscription to Newsweek or Photography Today?  My one and only job review came with this criticism – “You always sound surprised when people buy something from you”.  And my response?  “Surprised?  I’m in flipping shock!”.

But I digress…

I believe in my novel way more than I believed in 12 issues of Better Homes and Gardens.  I’d just love it if the process of submitting it didn’t involve jumping through hoops and praising my work and could just have them read it and decide for themselves.  But…I guess the work will all be worth it first when I see it in print on the bookshelf and then…when I see the movie version up on the big screen…?  See agents and editors?  I do believe in it!

I think I just need to hire an assistant to do the dirty work of writing up those letters for me and kindly shredding all of the rejection letters when they come back.  Someone who will tell me the ones who rejected it are idiots anyway.  And will then ask me “But then what happens…?”

 

 

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons is Purely Coincidental

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The problem with writing a novel that’s realistic instead of being a murder mystery, or sci-fi or fantasy or anything else, is that people who read it are going to think that they’re actually in it.

There’s a reason why novels have some version of a disclaimer on the copyright page stating that it’s a work of fiction and that names, places, events, yada yada, are imaginary or used in a fictitious manner.   There’s some version of that idea written to make it clear that it’s pretty much everything that you’re going to be reading is all made up.  Sure…  Even the completely made up stuff is inspired by our less boring moments of reality though.

So I wonder…  Who’s going to be the first person to ask me “Is so-and-so based on me?” when they read my novel.  Sure. My main character has a dad, so is that dad character based on my dad?  The main character has siblings, so are they based on mine?  Are the ex-girlfriends based on my ex-girlfriends?  And on and on…

None of the characters’ names in the book are the same as anyone in my life.  I’m not going to say that “names were changed to protect the innocent” though because, after all, anyone from my life who’s been completely innocent would be far too dull to make it into the pages of the novel.  And what fun would that be?  So don’t be looking through the pages for your name.  If you’re in there, your name isn’t going to be typed out on a single page.

And, thinking of pages, on my bookshelf there are a number of books that have little scraps of paper sticking out of the top, marking the pages that have lines I really want to remember, lines that inspire me and lines that remind me just why I write.  One of the marked sections I pulled out this week highlights a line in The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (one of my all-time favorite books and one that I very highly recommend if you haven’t gotten around to reading it yet) and it says:

Everyone always wants to know how you can tell when it’s true love, and the answer is this: when the pain doesn’t fade and the scars don’t heal, and it’s too damned late.

And I find that line pretty much sums up the concept of my novel.  Well, one of the major storylines contained in my novel anyway.  And it fits the overall style that I use when I’m writing.  It’s a lot like Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.  Both authors – Hornby and Tropper – write the ‘male confessional’ kind of book and I’d say that mine fits into that general mold as well.

But the dangerous thing about that is having everyone try to figure out how much of the “confessional” is true, and where they figure into the story.  Because if the main character is telling you about his life, his feelings, his secrets and all of the good stuff, it’s just more fun if you expect that there’s some truth buried deep inside.

So where is that truth?  I’m not telling you.  If you’re located somewhere in those 300 plus pages (under an assumed name of course because you – like me – aren’t at all innocent), you can probably figure it out for yourself.  And that’s where the fun of reading begins.  Right? 😀